Union parking lot gets self-pay kiosks

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The new parking kiosk at the Union on Thursday, June 16, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Visitors who park in the parking lot east of the Union building will no longer need to see humans in the booths, nor pay them any money. As of May of this year, the parking lot now has kiosks which only require a credit card and a car’s license plate number.

All you have to do at the kiosk is type in your license plate number, follow the prompts, input the amount of time you need, and swipe your credit card. Seems easy enough, right? Some people seem to think so, but others are confused and frustrated, especially those who need to pay with cash, as the machine only takes credit cards at this point.

“I was excited about the new [parking system], but they don’t take cash, which is difficult for a lot of people,” said Alex Clark, staff member at the Union information desk. If you have a credit or debit card that doesn’t work in major places, they don’t work on [the terminals]. It’s a pain sometimes.”

One reason for the transition from a manual parking system to an electronic one was the long lines at the parking booths. On days with several events taking place, some people could wait in line for over an hour to pay. Which would add more time to their ticket, requiring them to pay more.

After multiple complaints and much deliberation, Commuter Services made the decision to convert the parking lot to a self-pay lot.

“The core reason why we decided to do the kiosk system was we wanted to minimize the complication that comes with administering parking. We wanted to get rid of the parking booths and make the process more smooth and natural for people as they park. Ultimately, it was just a move to modernize parking and make it easier to administer and use,” said Billy Kurek, office assistant for Commuter Services.

This isn’t the first parking lot at the U to have a self-pay kiosk. About a year ago, kiosks were placed in the Business lot, which have been relatively successful. According to Kurek, the transition in the Union lot was smooth, and several kiosks were placed throughout the lot for people to purchase parking time. However, the minimum amount of time a person can purchase is one hour which has caused some frustration with people.

When the parking booths were in effect, visitors could park for free the first 15 minutes. This was helpful for those who needed to run a quick errand. Paij Chavez is a student who benefited from the 15 minute rule, and would like a change in the kiosk time increments.

“If you really did need just 15 minutes, then you could pay for just those 15 minutes instead of an hour, in case you just had to drop off [something like] a paper.”

Kurek maintains that Commuter Services is always open to suggestions and complaints from people, and if necessary, willing to make changes. With the new system, the kiosks are flexible and changes can be made to accommodate most situations.

“We address every complaint that comes in, and consider it in terms of the campus community as a whole. The options are absolutely on the table and we are very open to suggestions and accommodations,” said Kurek.

For questions about the parking kiosks, email Billy Kurek at william.kurek@utah.edu. For all other questions regarding parking email ucscomments@ucs.utah.edu.

r.folland@dailyutahchronicle.com

Updated 6/25/16: Questions specifically regarding parking should be directed to Commuter Services, questions regarding parking kiosks only should be emailed to Billy Kurek.

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